After vanquishing Trump in court, E. Jean Carroll said women could decide the presidential election

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E. Jean Carroll took on former President Donald Trump and won, and now she wants other women to know that they have the strength to do the same.

Speaking to attendees at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women dinner on Tuesday in New York, Carroll, who won $83.3 million in defamation damages against Trump in January, said that the outcome of the upcoming presidential election may depend on the women’s vote.

“Women could actually win this election,” she told Fortune’s Emma Hinchliffe. “Black women, particularly in the 2020 election, stepped up. And now I think the suburban mothers and suburban women should step up in this election.”

Carroll, a journalist and author, sued Trump for defamation after he called her a liar in 2019 when she publicly accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in 1996. A jury found that Trump’s statements had significantly damaged Carroll’s reputation. It was the second time that Carroll defeated the former president in a courtroom. The previous May, a separate jury found Trump not liable for rape, but guilty of sexually assaulting Carroll and then defaming her by claiming she made the story up. The verdict saw Carroll awarded $5 million, raising the total figure owed to her by Trump to $88.3 million.

Fueled by these victories, Carroll, who was joined onstage by her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, told the audience that she feels “very, very positive” about the power of women to bring about social change, despite significant setbacks to women’s rights including the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the recent throwing out of Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction by New York’s highest court. 

“I don’t think we’re going to be stopped, I really don’t,” said Carroll. “We just have to work really hard to help our sisters in the South, getting rights back over their own bodies.”

Carroll has yet to receive her money from Trump but that hasn’t stopped her making big plans for how to spend it. “I’m going to give it to everything Donald Trump hates,” she said. “He stacks the Supreme Court with conservative justices who take away women’s rights over their own bodies. I’m going to put as much as I can [in]to getting women’s rights back over our own bodies. I’m going to give it to making sure women become lawyers, particularly mothers who would like to have some scholarship assistance…Because he doesn’t have a dog, I want to give some to the ASPCA.”

Asked how she copes with being a target of online vitriol among Trump’s supporters, Carroll said that her experience is representative of what many women encounter on social media. “Every woman in this room has people saying terrible things [about them] on X, on Instagram. We all get, ‘you’re ugly, you’re old, you’re shriveled, you don’t deserve this, you’re pathetic, you’re hideous.’ We are all getting it. I am not unusual.” 

The conclusions of her trials, however, make the abuse easier to endure. And Carroll said she felt stirred to be in the same room as so many influential women. 

“A serious woman is an extremely powerful entity,” she warned. “The thing is never to despair—never despair. Always stay positive to be able to pull off what we’ve got to pull off.”

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